Skip to content

Moms These Days

When my mother texts me things like “i’ll call u later cuz i’m in a meeting,” it’s hard to believe she’s the same woman who listens to classical music and uses her senior citizen card to get into national parks for free.  It’s hard to visualize her, with her silver hair and glasses, texting like a 14-year-old Taylor Swift.

But it’s happening.  After going 20 years with no mobile phone at all, the woman pulled up her socks, velcroed her shoes, and got on the technology train.

I support her in this; my only regret is that I wasn’t there to teach her to text properly.  I suspect she had to hire a youth from the neighborhood to show her how to use her iPhone.  If I had been a little more helpful, maybe this could have been avoided.

The problem with youths is that they don’t always know what they’re doing–and I’m not just talking about texting.  If you asked a youth to write you a recipe for tiramisu, the youth would probably tell you to cover some cookies with Cool Whip® and pour tequila on top.

And that’s just not correct.broken eggsThe correct way to make tiramisu is actually very easy.  I know this because my mom put her iPhone down for one hot second last week and made it with me.eggwhites 2Here’s how you do it: In one bowl, you make a mascapone, egg yolk, and sugar mix.  In another bowl, you beat some egg whites.  Then you fold the two together.foldingNext, you dip lady fingers into coffee and liqueur.  espressoIn a serving dish, you alternate layers of the mix and layers of the ladyfingers.  Then you let it chill in the refrigerator.

And that’s it.  It’s pretty easy, and the finished dessert will knock your socks off.  (Unless you wear velcro shoes like my mom–in which case your socks aren’t going anywhere.)plated tiramisu

Tiramisu {Download & Print Recipe}
From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, by Lisa Caponigri.
I changed the following:  Lisa Caponigri’s recipes are for a crowd, so I halved this one and served it to 4 people after a big meal, with a serving or two left-over.  The recipe below is the halved version, and it also reflects the fact that I upped the mascarpone just a little and substituted Tia Maria for the Kahlua. (They’re both coffee liqueurs.) The only other changes I made below were to put the ingredients and directions in my own words.
And here’s another note: If you don’t see ladyfingers at your grocery store, you might want to ask.  We went to two stores where they kept the ladyfingers refrigerated in the back because they didn’t sell frequently enough to keep in the cookie aisle.
  The ladyfingers you buy should be soft and spongy, like angel food cake, not hard like biscotti or a cookie.  And don’t forget to budget at least an hour for the dessert to chill before servingEnjoy!

Ingredients: {Serves 4-6}

3/4 c. mascarpone cheese

1/4 c. + 1 1/2 tsp. sugar

3 eggs, separated (you can use pasteurized eggs if you like, since you won’t be cooking them.  They’re a little harder to separate, but technically safer)

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3/4 c. strong brewed espresso (any temperature, including cold, is fine)

1/2 c. Kahlua or Tia Maria (coffee-flavored liqueur)

20 3-inch-long lady fingers (or the equivalent if the packaged lady fingers you find at the store are larger.  Lady fingers are sometimes called savoiardi (in the Italian), but they’re spongy savoiardi, not hard.  See the headnote above.)


Put the mascarpone, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Whisk them together until the mixture is completely smooth.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  (Note that this make take a little longer than normal if you’re using pasteurized eggs.)

Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture with a spatula until the two are evenly incorporated.

In a cereal bowl, combine the coffee liqueur and the espresso.

Choose a serving dish that has a flat bottom and sides at least 4″ tall.  I used a round, 3-quart baking dish that was 9″ in diameter (the diameter of a typical pie tin), but a rectangular pyrex or a glass dish would work, too–it doesn’t need to be oven-safe.  The dish should be small enough so that you can manage to get three layers out of the mascarpone mix.

Using a large spoon (such as you’d use to stir pasta), spread a couple spoonfuls of the mascarpone mix (about 1/3 of the mix) into the empty serving dish so that it coats the entire bottom in a thin layer.

Dip a ladyfinger into the coffee mixture until it’s soaked through but still retains its shape.  My ladyfingers were fresh and spongy, so they soaked up the liquid in a mere second.  Place the ladyfinger on top of the mascarpone layer in the serving dish.  Repeat with more ladyfingers, placing them in the dish so that they’re almost touching, until you’ve covered the mascarpone layer with a layer of ladyfingers.  It’s okay if the ladyfingers drip a little as you place them in the dish, but you don’t want them so drenched that you’re getting a layer of ladyfinger soup on top of the mascarpone.  The number of ladyfingers you use to complete a layer will depend on the size of the ladyfingers and the shape of your pan, but the general rule is that you want each bite to have some ladyfinger layer in it.

Spread a couple of spoonfuls of mascarpone mix (another 1/3 of the mix) over the ladyfinger layer so that all the ladyfingers are submerged under mascarpone, even if they’re still visible through it.  Make another ladyfinger layer on top of that so that you have a total of two ladyfinger layers.  You will probably have some coffee mixture leftover.  (Drink it, if you wish!)

Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture (the final 1/3 of the mix) on top of the second ladyfinger layer.  Cover the serving dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour (and up to 24 hours) before serving.

To serve, put the cocoa into a sieve.  Hold the sieve over the serving dish and tap it with a spoon to sprinkle the cocoa on top of the tiramisu for effect.  Cut servings with a large spoon and transfer them to individual plates.  (Unless you refrigerate the tiramisu for many hours before serving, it’s probably going to be a little too soft to be divisible into neat squares, but that’s fine.  It will taste amazing.)  You can pass fresh berries alongside, if you like.


thnuder looking out the windowThunder keeps an eye on the youths from her perch by the window.

45 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for sharing that recipe! Every time I read ‘youths’ I kept imagining it being said like this haha!

    September 17, 2013
    • Brianna, I freaking love that show. And him in particular. The other day, Scott and I discussed the need for our own jar, to be filled with money whenever one of us says anything too Schmitty in our own home.

      September 17, 2013
      • I know he has the BEST one liners! Are you going to watch it tonight?!

        September 17, 2013
        • Ack! Is it coming back tonight?! I will have to watch it tomorrow, on Hulu. But that’s good news! Can’t wait.

          September 17, 2013
    • Yep! In the Schmidt voice, all the way.

      September 18, 2013
    • Oh, good lord! Another New Girl fan! All of them make me wet myself laughing (Okay, TMI).

      September 18, 2013
  2. wonderful post )

    September 17, 2013
  3. Gorgeous photos, delicious dessert that i have never made .. ever.. in fact i don’t even know what lady’s fingers are, love that dog.. c

    September 17, 2013
  4. I love your dog and recipe looks yummy, next time I go to the store I will get ingre. to make it

    September 17, 2013
    • Good luck with it! I hope you find all the ingredients you need. I was just thrilled with this recipe.

      September 17, 2013
  5. I’ve heard lots of speculation about the etymology of tiramisu, literally “pick me up.” Surely the dessert itself can be a pick-me-up, but I once had a waiter tell me the real origin is that tiramisu tastes so good that those who eat it swoon and need to be picked up from the floor. Has anyone else heard other theories?

    September 17, 2013
  6. Love that Thunder is a Watch/Guard Dawg:) I am so glad my father cannot text and drive because he is driving an RV pulling a vehicle on behind – that is one SCARY image in my mind! Your tiramsu looks delicious – thanks for sharing:) Happy Week!

    September 17, 2013
    • Thunder learns the watchdog behavior from Seymour, I think. The guy is good at guarding the house, even to the point of making all sorts of celebratory/annoying sounds when we come home. Thunder never says a word. She just watches. She was so fond of her perch in Alabama that we tried to recreate it at our new house in Illinois. I think it worked! She jumps up onto a chair near a front window and watches all the kids walk to the bus stop in the morning. 🙂

      As for your dad, whenever I see RVs carrying cars behind I think to myself “how on EARTH do they do that?” I’ve never even driven a minivan…

      September 17, 2013
    • Yes, Thunder is your Watch Dawg and Seymour is the Guard Dawg – ha!

      My dad has been doing it for years and we grew up around trucks and trailers and tractors. There lifestyle is little bit more RV park now because that is their home 365 days of the year.

      September 18, 2013
  7. cheryllovesfood #

    Thunder is such a ham! How precious! Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I suspect I’ll have a time finding the ladyfingers in my one horse town. The velcro shoes is right up there with the elastic waisted pants. Dang, it won’t be long now. LOL!

    September 17, 2013
    • Cheryl, if you like the recipe, check out the ladyfinger situation and let me know. You might also be able to make yellow cake or sponge cake and use that. But if you send me your address I will totally send you ladyfingers. If I can’t find them in Chicago, of all places, then they practically don’t exist!

      September 17, 2013
  8. Lucinda Rogers #

    [image: Inline image 1]Moms with silver hair and glasses: hey, get over it!

    September 17, 2013
    • Hi Cindy! Darn, I couldn’t see the image that it seems you might have tried to attach? But I hope you’re well.

      September 17, 2013
  9. Hi Eggton,
    I love tiramisu! Last weekend I made Antonio Carluccio’s one from his Classic Italian Food Cookbook which was excellent but he didn’t say to whip the egg whites into a meringue, like you’ve done here. I think I’ll give this one a go this weekend to see which one I prefer. And I also prefer kahlua to tia maria too. But I think it’d be interesting to experiment with frangelico instead.

    September 17, 2013
    • Oh my goodness, I bet frangelico would be amazing. I don’t have that Classic Italian Food Cookbook, so I’m glad you mentioned it. I’ll see if they have it at the bookstore next time I go. Do you have any other favorite recipes from it that you’d recommend?

      September 17, 2013
  10. When it comes to talking about youths, no one says it better than Joe Pesci in “My Cousin Vinny”. Check it out:


    September 17, 2013
    • Ha! First of all, mom–you’re logged into my account from your own computer because I used it when I was at your house. So now’s your chance to post an entire post getting back at me for exposing your text message habits. Ha! 🙂 Second, that clip is hilarious. Did you watch the clip that my friend at Tattoos and Tarts posted above? It’s from a show called The New Girl that I watch. And NOW, since you posted the My Cousin Vinny clip, I’m realizing that the people at The New Girl were probably referencing My Cousin Vinny by pronouncing Y-O-U-T-H-S the way they did. Neat!

      September 17, 2013
      • Kate #


        September 18, 2013
  11. Here’s what I know: 1) ladyfingers are produced by Specialty Bakers, in Marysville, PA and while I don’t know if they have the sole rights, they’ve been making them for over a century and 2) ladyfingers are hard to find and totally worth the search. Every time we drive by the Specialty Bakers plant I think about stopping in and purchasing a gross or so…

    September 17, 2013
  12. Gotta admit that I am not a fan of tiramisu because: soggy cake. On the other hand, the flavors are fabulous and yours turned out so pretty. I need to figure out some way to make a deconstructed version.

    For those without soft ladyfingers who are in baking mood, I’ll share the link to a blog I enjoy reading. Ellen made her own! Now she piped them round because she was making ice cream sandwiches out of them, but you could totally pipe them long as required for tiramisu. She’s a talented young lady for sure.

    September 17, 2013
  13. the whole “moms doing technology” thing is unsettling to me too. not because of age, but mostly b/c it’s my mother, who honestly didn’t even have a cell phone until about 7 years ago, now has an iphone and could probably destroy the world with it; at least that’s what she acts like when she gets confused about what button to push. i typically get calls at strange hours asking me how to perform a “friend edit” on bakery story, or how to “make all the little squares shake so i can move them around.” things like that. moms are the best.
    tiramisu: i haven’t made it in forever, and i bet if i think back, i’ve never made it properly. Now i have the urge to do so.
    i’m happy you are back. a lot happy. 🙂

    September 18, 2013
    • Amy #

      hehehe, I love that she asked to “make all the little squares shake!!!!” That made me giggle 🙂

      September 18, 2013
  14. My mom has a pay-as-you-go Nokia with old style text by hitting the numbers multiple times to get the desired letter. She doesn’t text often because she doesn’t turn her cell phone on much, but it makes me happy every time I get a text where she replaces you with u.

    That tiramisu looks amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

    September 18, 2013
  15. My mom finally got on the text bandwagon, but i just dont’ think she completely gets it. I’ve tried to discourage texting shorthand like “lol” because it freaks me out. Also, her email still gives her problems. I’m trying to get her to switch from yahoo to gmail but she’s being very stubborn.
    Anyway, I’m glad your mom put her texting aside for a big so she could make this tiramisu with you- it looks delicious. I love that photo of the espresso brewing!

    September 18, 2013
  16. Wait! What?! I’m off having major surgery and re-evaluating major life decisions to date, and you move to Chicago?! And I know we don’t really know each other, outside of our meeting over me using your blog entry illegally one day (I had the fifitopia blog), but there’s this little tiny part of me that’s thinking “Huh! She didn’t let me know she was coming to my part of the country.” Hmph. Does that sound potentially stalkeresque?

    Well, welcome to the Midwest, and thank God (literally). It needs you in it.

    And I have a lot of catching up to do. A lot. So I’ll be reading pretty much every blog entry you’ve made from April till now. Which will make that some of the best use of my time I’ve employed in ages!


    September 18, 2013
  17. My parents each have iPhones and iPads. Dealing with them is next to impossible now.

    Also. This tiramisu looks lovely – even though I can’t eat eat (due to the… moist finger component). Of course, I’d probably like yours.

    I guess we’ll find out when I come to visit you.

    September 18, 2013
  18. I save up calories for weeks so I can have tiramisu at Olive Garden once in a while. This is deadly dangerous information. I may have to eat my computer to keep from making this.

    Speaking of trying to cook, I made your Baba Ganoosh yesterday!! My first Eggton recipe! It was fabulous, but I ate too much. I’m afraid the cats suffered the most when I fluffed the covers later that night.

    Love the mug shot of Thunder. Obviously taken at the local Chicago slammer when she got mixed up with the street yoots.

    September 18, 2013
  19. I adore all of this post, the Schmidt ‘youths’ which I heard in my head, the tequila tiramisu & well all of it. My Dad is the same with texting, making up his own abbreviations to the point that I just call instead of trying to decipher them.

    September 19, 2013
  20. Hahaha! My mom loves her Velcro shoes toooooo. I haven’t made tiramisu in over a decade (eeks) but it is just so yummy and luxurious to eat. Well done!

    September 19, 2013
  21. Beautiful pictures, great recipe. I’m sure I can’t find half those ingredients where I live but I can live vicariously through you!

    September 19, 2013
  22. tirimisu is one of my favorite desserts – so much so it was the flavor of our wedding cake 🙂
    my mom who up until fairly recently called emails faxes started texting about a year ago – I am still reeling from it…

    September 19, 2013
  23. jenny_o #

    Oh, all you youngsters – just wait until you turn 50 and realize you still feel 18!!! THEN you’ll be sorry you dissed your elders 🙂

    I hope Thunder and Seymour are settling into your new place well. Thunder looks very pensive in that shot.

    I’ve had tiramisu only once, but it was heavenly. It’s nice to know I now have a proven recipe to make it if I feel like doing so!

    September 19, 2013
  24. Hooray! Food! #

    I have the opposite problem with my mom–she’s a little too good with her iPhone! Makes me feel like kind of a failure of a 25 year-old. She puts me to shame! Maybe I’ll lure her away from her phone with this recipe. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! I loooove tiramisu!

    September 19, 2013
  25. Sarah #

    I guess I’m lucky: My mom can text only “No” or “OK.”

    September 23, 2013
  26. There was a point where my mom started texting me in “phone company speak,” from her years as a directory assistance operator. This just means she left out all the vowels and articles. I thought she was talking in code. But to change topics slightly, I AM SO MAKING THAT TIRAMISU. That’s all.

    September 23, 2013
  27. I wonder if I can return the tequila.

    September 24, 2013
  28. My favorite tiramisu moment took place at work, when some lovely Upper School parents made a huge Italian feast for “Teacher Appreciation Lunch,” presented to the faculty after chapel on Friday a few years ago. Needless to say, we are all big dessert fans and were digging in with gusto; the conversation got louder and sillier and louder still….till suddenly somebody looked up and said “Whoa, this tiramisu is FULL OF BOOZE.” It really, really was FULL of liqueur, and we all reeked of it. Silence as we all put down our spoons….and sorta staggered off to our afternoon classes. Seriously, it had so much alcohol–no wonder we devoured it so enthusiastically–and 7th period was just a little “off” that day… Great Moments in Teaching!

    September 26, 2013
  29. Lovely post :). And thank you for tiramisu recipe, that is my favourite dessert :).

    October 16, 2013

{Leave a Note}

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s